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News from the Votemaster            

Deal to Delay Resignation to Vote on Health Insurance     Permalink

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) has decided to postpone his announced resignation from the House. He wants to leave to devote his full efforts to running for governor of Georgia. However, his resignation would have reduced the number of sitting members of the House to 431, thus requiring Speaker Nancy Pelosi to round up only 216 votes to pass the health-insurance bill instead of 217. Under great pressure from his Republican colleagues, he has decided to stay on until the vote so Pelosi will need 217 votes (but see below).

Massa Will Resign from the House Today     Permalink

Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) is going to resign from the House today. He cited a recurrence of his earlier cancer. He also grudgingly admitted that as a 24-year Navy veteran he made have used salty language when addressing a subordinate. There are also allegations of sexual harassment of a male staffer floating around but no real evidence (i.e., nobody has come forward and said he was harassed.

It is interesting to see how large media outlets often slant the news. The headline in the Kansas City Star reads: "Massa's resignation another blow to reeling Democrats." Actually, the reverse is true on two counts. First, his resignation cancels out Deal's unresignation and thus reduces the number of votes needed to pass bills to 216. In such a closely contested bill as the health-insurance bill, every vote counts. Second, it shows that when Democrats are accused of offenses, they resign or at least give up their power (see, Spitzer, Eliot and Rangel, Charlie) whereas when Republicans are accused of improprieties, they stonewall and stay in office (see Sanford, Mark and Ensign, John and Vitter, David). So getting back to the headline, while Massa's behavior wasn't good for the Democrats, his resignation gets him out of the way and makes it easier to pass the health-insurance bill, so it is good news, not bad news for the Democrats.

A side-effect of Rangel's giving up the gavel at the House Ways and Means committee is the end of the line for Harlem as the center of black political power. For decades, people like Rangel and former representative Adam Clayton Powell were the voice of black America. With Powell dead and Rangel and Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) on the way out and a black President from Chicago, Harlem's glory days appear to be over. What Rangel should have done and failed to do is help younger black leaders from Harlem into positions where they could springboard into powerful positions.

Delahunt to Retire     Permalink

Also leaving the House, but at the end of this session, is seven-term congressman William Delahunt (D-MA). He is 68 and is just moving on. His district, MA-10, is D+5, so it is slightly competitive, but it leans Democratic. Democrats are already signing up for the expected primary, including state senator Robert O'Leary and Norfolk DA William Keating.

Durbin vs. Schumer Race for the Leadership Revving Up     Permalink

If Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) loses his bid for reelection, an increasingly likely occurrence, there is probably going to be a battle for his job between the current #2 Democrat, Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the current #3, Chuck Schumer (D-NY). There is a subtle dynamic at play in this hush-hush race though. During the past two elections, Schumer was chairman of the DSCC and helped elect 14 freshman senators, who clearly owe a lot to Schumer. On the other hand, nearly all of them are chafing at the bit and want to take a much more aggressive stance against the Republicans, tossing bipartisanship in the garbage pail and fighting the GOP tooth and nail. Durbin sees an opening here by getting more aggressive with the Republicans, in large part to woo the freshman Democrats, whose votes he will need to become majority leader in the event Reid is not back in January. It will be interesting to see how Schumer responds to Durbin.

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